Gower Bibliography

Gower's Characterization of Genius in the Confessio Amantis

Schueler, Donald G. "Gower's Characterization of Genius in the Confessio Amantis." Modern Language Quarterly 33 (1972), pp. 240-256.


Schueler argues that a proper understanding of the CA (including its literary merit) depends upon the allegorical function of Genius. Whereas many critics see Genius as hopelessly stuck between Christian morality and courtly love, Schueler suggests that he is not the spokesman for courtly love to begin with. The apparent contradiction between God and love is resolved once we recognize that Genius stands for natural procreation and works for a Venus who in turn serves Nature, the "handmaiden of God" (245). In the tradition Gower inherits from Jean de Meun and Alain of Lille, Genius interprets love from the perspective of Christian morality. This also explains the various apparent digressions in the CA: "the priest’s most compelling purpose ... is to draw these parallels between the laws governing human passion and those governing other aspects of moral behavior" (248). Genius does not contradict himself, but "contradicts a set of scholarly preconceptions about what allegorical love poetry should be" (248). [CvD]

Item Type:Article
Subjects:Sources, Analogues, and Literary Relations
Confessio Amantis

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